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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Difficult German Partners

After rediscovering his past as a G.I. who was stationed in Germany during the Cold War, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now in Berlin for the more official part of his visit. To the U.S., Germany has become a difficult partner.

On Friday morning, Mike Pompeo was scheduled to meet Germany’s Minister of Defense, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, nicknamed ‘AKK’ (Read seperate article Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer: The ‘AK-47’ of Defense Ministers) because of her long name hardly any partner from abroad can pronounce. Later today, he will see Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Long List of Issues

Officially, they will “talk about the security policy and transatlantic questions”. Back then, when 1 plus 1 still equaled 2, there had always been talk about “transatlantic relations”. Today, the latter do not really deserve that expression anymore, it seems.

From Washington’s perspective, there is a long list of problems:

  • The U.S. do not appreciate the way Germany is ducking away from responsibilities regarding military operations.
  • For years, Washington has said Germany should increase its military spending substantially. The only high-ranking Berlin government politician who seems to want to meet that demand is AKK.
  • America wants Germany to finally classify Hezbollah as what it is: a terror organization. Berlin believes it knows better and still refuses to do so.
  • The U.S. pulled out of the so-called Iran Deal long ago and want their partners to follow suit. Germany is taking the opposite approach, by courting the Teheran regime and fighting for an agreement the Mullahs have already broken.
  • While the United States moved their embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Berlin dislikes the idea of anyone else moving theirs to the capital of Israel. Chancellor Merkel is said to have called European heads of government, telling them not to move their embassies.
  • Washington is opposed to the Russian-European gas pipeline project North Stream II, while Berlin is clinging to it.
  • Washington has pulled out of the so-called United Nations Human Rights Council which has turned into an organization the sole purpose of which is to accuse Israel of Human Rights abuses. In spite of the UNHRC’s constant scandals, Maas believes in this U.N. body Germany is now part of.

Pompeo and Maas Agree on NATO

On top of it all, President Donald Trump’s approach to almost anything, including climate change and imports, and his politics style, are not exactly helping the relations. Trump’s people, including Pompeo, definitely know this is the case.

On Thursday, Pompeo had spoken to U.S. soldiers in Bavaria. He also visited the formerly divided village of Mödlareuth. In Leipzig, he spoke to his German colleague Heiko Maas. There was even one thing they agreed on, namely NATO’s importance in regard to security, even 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In spite of all the issues, and even though Heiko Maas had not specifically mentioned the role the United States played in Germany’s reunification in a speech he held earlier this week, Pompeo was being as diplomatic as possible on Thursday, by saying Germany had been a “great partner in supporting our efforts to attempt to denuclearize North Korea.” He also mentioned the fight for democracy in Venezuela, in which Germany had been on America’s side.